The plan... get up at 0600 for a 0630 departure, we won't get to do sunrise but we might get to have the view to ourselves. I would estimate that there are maybe a maximum of 20 trekkers in the village, so this plan has merit. Based on our time on Kala Patthar and then EBC the whole solitude thing continues to appeal.
At 0710 (staffing problems in the kitchen) we leave the relative post porridge warmth and walk down through the village to the lake, it's an icy, snowy path and I earn one wet foot. The two ducks are out and there is mist coming off the lake where a hot spring is located. Some stellar shaped cracks are appearing in the lake, reminiscent of the glacial lake in Manang that we enjoyed so much last year.
Having made it to the foot of the hill that leads to the Gokyo Ri we start the very slow procession upwards. There is a fairly well defined path that most people seem to be following, we don't- why? Not sure. Pretty damn hard work but the moraine is easy to walk on, it's just a question
of oxygen availability. The moraine quickly gives way to snow, but luckily this early in the morning it is still frozen. Have several mini breaks all the while counting off my 100 step mantra. At 0900 we have a quick cuppa in the sun. The Renjo La Pass is visible from here. Traverse the snow and find ourselves back on the main path. From here the flags at the top of the hill are visible and people are making their way back down in dribs and drabs. We pass a couple of small quiet groups. Next group has one very enthusiastic guy-he reminds me of someone, well his voice does, his face is concealed in a hat and glasses. Turns out it is Callum, the English guy from Jorsale who we met on day 2. Say a second goodbye to him.
I continue on for the last little bit with Dhana in hot pursuit, it actually feels easier at this point, funny how having the end in sight gives you the last push. Stepping through the flags is pretty awesome. There is a small gold Buddha statue in a glass case and lots of prayer flags and kata. There
is one other trekker still up here- Warren, an English guy staying at our teahouse. Off to the RHS are more rocks and prayer flags, I make a beeline for it and climb on the rocks as high as I can to enjoy a few moments of solitude. By this time Mary and Dhana have also arrived but are still over at the main area. Sitting on that rock is the absolute highlight for me of the trek to date. I know thousands of other people have probably sat right here before me but I feel a great sense of accomplishment that I have done it. I sit up there and reflect for i don't know how long, it seems like a long time. It is really peaceful.
When I open my eyes Mary is kind of around the corner on her own personal rock. We take some pictures and go back to the main area. Dhana is meditating and there is no sign of Warren. It's so very, very cool up here, I know already that I am not going to be ready to go back down when the time comes. Dhana rejoins us. We then do what
we seem to do best - have a picnic! We spend another hour on Gokyo Ri and take in the immensity of the mountains around us. The conditions are absolutely crystal clear. Dhana points out Cho Oyu, Everest (although it certainly needs no pointing out!), Lhotse, Makalu, Cholatse, Toboche, Chola Pass and the Ngozumba Glacier. Awesome.
Sasha, the Russian arrives as we prepare to leave- he cuts a really striking picture - he is tall- a big guy, he is wearing a bright red jacket and a black Siberian/Russianish hat with mirror glasses- totally should be in a Bond film as one of the baddies.
We leave around 1130 as the cloud starts to come in from the south west, there's only a little bit of wind. Sasha comes down with us. It only takes an hour or so to get down. The snow is more slippery and slushy. Looking out to the lake the astrocytes have stretched out a little further and the edges of the lake have defrosted some more. We get back to the tea house and revel in the fact that we are spending a second night here. Warren is back and is tucking
in to eggs and chips, a true Englishman. We join him.
After lunch we discover that there are 2 shower rooms!!!! They aren't actually working, as the pipes are still frozen, but they are warm and sunny- little rooms- kind of like saunas the sun has heated them up so much. We each take in our bowls of hot water and completely strip off- starting to look a bit skinny - added bonus to trekking (i still really hope it's opaque glass!). Have a full wash, full dry and full moisturise and put clean stuff on- such a treat. Spend the rest of the day hanging out in the sun in the dining room. Warren is our new best English friend, there are also a couple of Danish engineers (they do things with wind turbines) and a couple of Brazilian guys staying the night. We all enjoy being clean, we smell good, we are happy. We chat into the evening.
Dinner is good. We realise we haven't seen Chitra all day- it seems Chitra has been co-opted to work in the kitchen.
Go to bed after an in depth discussion with Warren on how best to fix
his deteriorating shoe. So far he has tried an elastic band, a mitten and a piece of string without much success. There is not a tube of super glue in the entire village. I go get my solution from my bag - a roll of duct tape- it has just solved yet another important problem in the world.....
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